BRIGADIER Patrick West officially handed the reins of office over to Brigadier Godfrey Bess during a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Change-of-Command parade on Thursday. Outgoing Chief-of-Staff West was joined by his family. The event featured parachute jumping and the handing over of the Force’s colours. Bess is married to Mrs. Margaret West, and together they have five children. Also in attendance at the parade were Prime Minister Brigadier (r’td) Mark Phillips; Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn; Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, and National Security Adviser Gerry Gouveia.
West, in his farewell speech, spoke with pride of some of the achievements of the GDF under his leadership, and noted that he is of the belief that the Force’s new head will continue to work for the advancement of the Army. The outgoing Chief-of-Staff has given 37 years of service to the GDF, and has performed outstandingly in all his assigned duties. He was also recognised for his immeasurable contribution to the success and professional development of the Army’s Air Force, and international military students. West was awarded the Military Service Star (MSS) in 2017.
While serving in the Army, he continued to qualify himself, becoming the first officer in Guyana to earn two master degrees simultaneously. West holds a Master of Science Degree in Administration from the Central Michigan University, and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the Command and General Staff College, USA.
He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pubic Management, and a Diploma in Public Management from the University of Guyana. Additionally, he holds a Certificate in Human Health and Global Environmental Change from the University of Guyana.
Apart from his professional educational pursuits, West also qualified himself in professional military education through several training exercises and initiatives, including the Intermediate Level Education at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He also did training courses at foreign military institutions such as Escola de Aperfecion de Officias in Brazil, and the National Defence University in the People’s Republic of China and several peacekeeping modules in Latin America.
The outgoing Chief-of-Staff made his way through the ranks, holding several appointments, including Platoon Commander and Commanding Officer in both the Artillery and Infantry units. In addition, he held the posts of Inspector-General and Commandant of the Guyana People’s Militia.
Brigadier West also held several non-traditional appointments in the Force, notably Force Housing Officer, Secretary/Manager for the GDF Credit Union, Project Coordinator for the GDF Credit Union/World Bank HIV/AIDS project, and Programme Manager for the Inter-American Grant for Micro-finance to enhance loan management and accounting. Currently, Brigadier West is the Chairman of the Commissions Board, Chairman of the Joint Services Coordinating Council, and President of the Guyana National Rifle Association. He is also the Senior Pastor for Streams of Power Ministries.
Brigadier West stated that he leaves his legacy and time served not just a part of the Force but also his time leading the Force, where he implemented systems that would have helped him to achieve his goal of effectively transforming the Force for national defence through sheer professionalism.